Cracking the Seal on Ebert Art Center’s Display of Containers

Photo of an early 20th century Pueblo jar (Olla) on display at the Ebert Art Center (Photo courtesy of Matt Dilyard)
Elizabeth Heatwole, Contributing Writer

The Ebert Art Center’s latest exhibition, titled “Contained: The Art of Holding it Together,” centers around objects that hold the pieces of daily life. Sourced entirely from Wooster’s own art collection, “Contained” explores society’s relationship with containers through social, economic and cultural perspectives. 

Bowls, plates, tea kettles and chests are displayed throughout the Sussel Gallery, and as one winds their way through Roman glassware and ornately patterned plates, a small but mighty sliver of human history is imbibed. From youth to old age, the included containers track human progression. One display of dishes was intended solely for a burial chamber. I attended the exhibition’s grand opening on Sept. 6 and became entranced with the history behind each object’s surface beauty. Upon entering the gallery, I was greeted first by a small figurine, which I believed was nothing more than a small keepsake box. However, when informed that it served the religious purpose of holding a prayer of its late Buddhist owner, the object assumed a new meaning, as did the seemingly simplistic concept of containers. 

Ranging from approximately 1500 BCE to the mid-1980s, the wide timespan of pieces creates an intimate capsule that explores modern society’s connection to the past. So, too, is The College of Wooster’s past touched on. Since “Contained” was developed using objects already owned by the College museum, the exhibition also serves as a timeline for the faculty and alumni travels that resulted in the acquisition of the art pieces. “A lot were objects sent back to the States by missionaries. The fishbowl was a gift from an alumnus, Robert Kah, and was part of the Chinese pavilion at the World’s Fair in 1933,” Dr. Wardle, the museum’s curator and director, excitedly shared. Summarizing, Dr. Wardle added, “These tell beautiful stories about generosity and alumni.” 

Events related to the exhibition are being held throughout the months of September, October and November. Referencing one event, D Brock Newcom ’26 said, “My opportunity to see the exhibit was after a tea tasting event, so I naturally gravitated towards the teapots. Each one represented different styles, each with their own charm.” From stone wine vessels to a floral fishbowl with a storied past, both past and present abound within “Contained: The Art of Holding it Together,” an exhibition celebrating the beauty of utilitarian objects and those who once enjoyed them. 

The exhibit runs until Dec. 9, 2022 and is located in the Sussel Gallery of the Ebert Art Center.

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